Mahdi Golchin Founder of Insightfactory and creator of "DIY Seo Action Plan" 7 min read

How to drive your first 100 customers to your online store

How to get your first 100 customers
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I can remember clearly when I started my first online shop, I created an online store and a Facebook page, added some pictures of the product. And then I asked myself, now what? How are the customers going to find me? I thought to myself, I have some awesome products. If the customers see them, they are going to love them and buy them from me. Let's wait for Facebook to do the magic for me but nothing happened at all.
That was the start of my 12 years of learning how to find and drive customers to my online shop.
In this guide, I'm going to create a step-by-step guide for the ones who are in the same situation that I was 12 years ago. The guide is about what to do, what not to do, and in which order.

In this guide you will learn:

  • What puts an end to your entrepreneurial dream.
  • If your business idea is worth your time and effort.
  • The first step you should take.
  • A step-by-step guide to getting your first customers.
step by step seo for website
Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

First things first

What makes you go out of the business? To me and most people out there who start their own online shop for the first time, there are two things running out of money, or burning out. That's when the dream didn't come true. Time's up, you have to look for a job, put an end to your online business dream.
You need to take good care of two things, your morale and your money. Creating something out of nothing is beautiful, but hard, you really need to take good care of yourself, to go through this process.

Ok, I'm going to show what needs to be done step-by-step to prevent this from happening.

Is your business idea worth your time and effort?

Many of the ideas are not going to work. It's completely normal, and it's not the end of the world. It happens to all of us.

The painful part is to waste our lives on creating a business without any customers.

So the best way to avoid wasting our lives is to find out as soon as possible. Learning whether your business is going to work before running out of money, should be your first priority when you start something new.

But how? Ideas are abstract, you need to ask good questions to evaluate their value. There are 4 questions that you need to ask yourself and answer whenever you have a business idea.  Your job is to find the answers in the real world.

To make a business, you need to find the answers to the following questions:

Are there any customers out there looking for solving their problems?

There should be people with a specific problem that they are aware of and they are willing to solve it.

The main takeaways are, that they should be aware of that problem, and are willing to pay to solve it.

Example: You have back pain, you feel the pain every day, and you are thinking of doing something for it. (Maybe go to the doctor or do yoga, …)

If there is a solution, is the customer going to use it?

It means that they are willing to use a solution and they can afford it and are going to pay for it. If the customer couldn't afford it or is not willing to pay for it, so there is something wrong here.
Example: A person has a backache, but can't afford a massage every week. So he is not a customer for a massage therapy clinic.

Are they going to buy it from you?

Just because a person has a problem and willing to pay for it, it doesn't mean that he/she is going to buy it from you. This is what many small business owners forget.

Can you fulfill customers' needs?

This is usually the least important one. For example, many people are going to start their dropshipping store, they look at the stats and say, yes, people are buying product X, and there is a great margin on it, so I need to find a good supplier to start my business.
They just skip the first three important questions and go straight to the last one.

How to find answers to these questions?

First, we make some assumptions about customers, problems they might have, and their reaction to your solution.
Then we are going to test each one of our assumptions in the real world.

Essential steps to starts your business

step by step seo for website
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Know your customer
I remember when I started, this step wasn't attractive to me, so I skipped it and went for the interesting cool trending steps. (Like creating an ad, or selecting a cool edgy theme for my shop).
And mostly, after a while when I got really frustrated I had to come back to it.

It's the most essential step in order not to go out of the business.
It's necessary to know( or even guess ) who is going to buy your products. 
When you know them well, you can come up with ways to get in front of their eyes.
For sure, it's really hard to find the correct answer at the beginning, but having a list of potential customers is enough for the start.

Who is your customer? I created this guide to help you create your customer's profile.

You are going to come back to your customer's profile and update it when:

  • You find incorrect information in your assumptions. ( for example, a group of customers, that you thought was really interested in your product, is not interested at all)
  • You want to make new assumptions ( e.g. Mothers are going to love my product, they want to use it as a gift)

Update your list immediately. Your brain is not built for saving business assumptions, write it down, add it up to your list immediately.

Let's say I want to sell "comfortable leggings for outdoor workouts" Who can be my customer?
  • Women between the age of 18- 45 who go for the run in the afternoon.
  • Women attending a yoga class.
  • Women who go to the gym.
  • Friends of an athletic woman, looking for buying a gift.
  • Friends of my customers who are going to ask them about their wonderful leggings to come and buy them from you.

Why do they buy it?
  • They want to be comfortable and stylish.
  • They need something to keep their legs warm and is suitable for running as well.
when do they need it most?
  • When they sign up for a gym membership.
  • Their friends' birthdays are going to be at the end of the week.
  • They need new leggings.
Why they should buy from you?
  • You can offer the same day delivery in your city.
  • You use a classy textile on your leggings.
  • Your products are built with organic material.
  • They prefer buying from a small business than a big firm.
You can either spend a lot of time creating your customer's profile or just write one or two. It doesn't matter that much. Because this is just core assumptions about your customers. It's just a starting point.

Find the first few customers:

Yes, that's the time. In this step, you don't need to think about traffic or any other matters, only focus on the first few customers.
You have a list of your potential customers, it's time to go and target them one by one.

How can you target them?

It's logical to always start with the easiest one. The ones that are available to you.
Let's get back to the example, I want to sell "comfortable, stylish outdoor leggings" online.

Group 0) You

Am I going to use them myself? 
Yes? Great, remember that I assume that friends of my customers are going to rush and come and buy from my store. Let's have an experiment, I can be my first customer, I can wear them on and take a selfie, tag my business page, and post it on social media. Let's see how my friends are going to react.

Sometimes, ideas come from personal experience, you need a product and find it difficult or expensive to get it. So maybe it inspires you to go and build a webshop to sell the specific product.
If that's your case, go ahead, think hard about the time that you had the problem, add it to your customer's profile. So you could go and target people similar to yourself.

Group 1) Friends and Family.

In the same way, I can ask my friends and family to be my first customers. Ask them to buy from you, and post it on their social media.
You need your customers to trust you. So always start with your friends and family. Nothing gives you more motivation and energy than having a sale. The money itself doesn't matter now. You need the energy to keep going.

If you don't have any friends or family in your customer's segment, it's alright, jump to the next step.

Group 2 )Social Groups

Check your customers' profiles, and make a list of the online places that they hang out.
Maybe they are members of a specific Facebook group or subreddit.
Back to our example, "Women who go for an outdoor run or go to the gym". Where do they hang out digitally? They maybe,

  • Members of a Facebook group for " run at the weekend in {city X} ".
  • Members of the "health tips, healthy lifestyle" groups.
  • Members of a local gym group in your neighborhood.
  • Asking questions related to outdoor workout on Facebook, Reddit, or online forums.

Open your Facebook, search for keywords related to your audience I started with "health Copenhagen".
search social groups that your customers hang out where you can find your first 100 customers where you can find your first 100 customers where you can find your first 100 customers

How to get in front of your customers?

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